DVD reviews: 'The LEGO Movie,' 'The Grand Budapest Hotel,' and 'Joe'
“The LEGO Movie” (2014, PG, 100 min., $28.98) When word got out that there was going to be a LEGO movie, it seemed like a ridiculous idea. Those thoughts couldn't have been more wrong. “The LEGO Movie,” coming from the duo of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, is a tremendously fun film that has enough to keep the kids invested while tossing in some tongue-in-cheek jokes that'll hook the adults. It's a great ride that takes on a smart storyline, while using voice work from Jonah Hill, Will Ferrell, Will Arnett, Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Alison Brie and others to its advantage. The film follows a storyline that has some resemblances to “The Matrix.” An ordinary LEGO named Emmet goes about his daily life until, one day, he falls upon a mysterious relic. The item immediately changes Emmet's life, as he thrown into a world he did not know existed. A group of rebels want to take down Lord Business, an evil mastermind trying to dominate the world, and Emmet is thought of as their savior. Will he have the skills to lead them past Lord Business? Blu-ray and standard DVD packages are loaded with extras, but there's even more supplements to be had on a special edition Blu-ray set. 3.5 Stars.
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” (2014, R, 100 min., $29.98) Visionary filmmaker Wes Anderson goes a little deeper and darker for his latest film, “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” The picture follows the tale of Gustave H., a legendary European concierge who's framed for murdering a wealthy old woman. Gustave, played wonderfully by Ralph Fiennes, teams up with an understudy named Zero (Tony Revolori) to clear his name. The adventure takes the two characters through several desolate locations in Europe, and reaches its heights with an old-fashioned prison break that plays out splendidly. Following his magnificent 2012 film “Moonrise Kingdom,” Anderson delivers another home run, mixing in his usual brand of detailed visuals with a plot line that entertains and amazes. The talented director also gets top-notch performances from Fiennes, Revolori, Willem Dafoe, F. Murray Abraham and Jude Law. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is just another example of why Anderson is one of the greatest filmmakers working today. Special features inside Blu-ray and standard DVD sets are pretty good, and they include a solid making-of featurette, a stills gallery and a few promotional items. 3.5 Stars.
“Joe” (2013, R, 117 min., $19.98) Director David Gordon Green and actor Nicolas Cage have both dealt with a recent string of bad movies, but “Joe” proves their best work is not behind them. A dramatic thriller with plenty of atmosphere, “Joe” is a solid picture with plenty of grit. A strong screenplay — adapted from Larry Brown's novel of the same name — from Gary Hawkins teams well with tough settings and noteworthy performances from Cage, Tye Sheridan and the late Gary Poulter. “Joe” follows a fellow named Joe (Cage) with a violent past. He's a decent guy, though, and when he comes across a young man named Gary (Sheridan) with an abusive alcoholic of a father (Poulter), he does his best to help him. Although he doesn't want to get involved, Joe doesn't want Gary to be held back by his situation at home, so he offers him a job and some additional benefits. However, the relationship doesn't sit well with Gary's father, and it causes problems for Joe. Special features included on standard DVD and Blu-ray packages are worth watching, and they include two good featurettes. One looks at the production of the film, while the other explores the origins of the story. 3 Stars.
“Ernest & Celestine” (2013, PG, 80 min., $29.95) An Academy Award nominee for Best Animated Film this past year, “Ernest & Celestine,” based on a classic Belgian book series, tells the tale of a world of mice that live underground. They're in fear of the bears that live above ground. That is until Ernest and Celestine form a wonderful friendship.
“Jimmy P.” (2013, NR, 117 min., $24.98) Benicio Del Toro and Mathieu Amalric provide wonderful performances in a drama about the relationship between a Native American dealing with mental issues and a French psychoanalyst. They are able to form a tight bond in the process of trying to discover what's ailing the Native American.
“Picnic at Hanging Rock” (1975, PG, 115 min., $29.95) Australian director Peter Weir made his breakthrough as a filmmaker with this 1975 drama about a group of students and a teacher disappearing without a trace at a secluded picnic spot. The film is being re-released by the Criterion Collection with an abundance of added special features.
“13 Sins” (2014, R, 88 min., $24.98) Daniel Stamm, the director of 2010's “The Last Exorcism,” returns with another horror story about a desperate man caught up in a game that finds him winning lots of cash if he finishes a series of sinister tasks. The picture carries a solid cast, including Mark Webber, Rutina Wesley and Ron Perlman.
“Haunt” (2013, R, 86 min., $24.98) Talented Australian actress Jacki Weaver headlines this spiritual horror film about a new family moving into a haunted house. When Evan, a teenager in the family, learns how to communicate with the spirits in the house, the situation grows scary. Harrison Gilbertson and Liana Liberato also star in “Haunt.”
“Almost Human” (2013, NR, 80 min., $24.98) Described as an homage to old-school slasher films, director Joe Begos' film is about a man who disappears from a small Maine town without a trace. Two years later, he's back, and something terribly evil resides inside him. His return also coincides with a string of grisly murders in the community.
“The Attorney” (2013, NR, 127 min., $24.98) A big winner at the South Korean box office, “The Attorney” is a powerful drama about a largely successful lawyer who changes the course of his life by taking on the case of a falsely accused teen who's been beaten and tortured in prison. Director Woo-seok Yang's picture is based on a true story.
“No Clue” (2013, NR, 96 min., $19.98) Amy Smart, David Koechner and Brent Butt have lead roles in this comedy about a novelty advertising salesman who takes on the case of a missing person after he's mistaken for a detective. Leo has no idea of where to start, but he takes on the case because the woman in need is a beautiful one.
NEW ON BLU-RAY
“Cousin Jules” (1972, NR, 91 min., $34.95)
TV ON DVD
“House of Cards: The Complete Second Season” (four discs, 13 episodes, $55.99)
“Regular Show: The Complete Third Season” (three discs, 40 episodes, $26.95)
“Tosh.0: Collas Plus Exposed Arms” (two discs, 21 episodes, $19.99)
“Sinbad: Make Me Wanna Holla” (standup from Detroit, NR, 89 min., $16.99)